Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forget the ladybug...gimme the dirt!!!

This morning has been a beautiful time of enjoying the nice weather while sitting on the back screen porch in the wicker chair with the comfy pillows.  Bird watching, eating breakfast and drinking hot tea with my precious 4-year-old son who was sitting in the other big comfy wicker chair doing the same. 

He LOVES ladybugs!  And they seem to love him, too.  Seems there is always one somewhere near him...they even mysteriously find him in the house.  He tries to trap them sometimes so they won't fly away.  Other times he has one crawling on his shirt as he walks around the house.  They are his "buddies".  And he "wuvs" them, as he says.  He has even said that the ladybug is his "best friend".

So, while he was playing with one on the porch this morning, he spotted another even bigger one.  As he was trying to catch that one, it managed to crawl in the tiny space between the planks of the floor of the porch, and then it made its way outside of our screened-in area via its little tiny space.  He was soooo disappointed.  He wanted to catch his ladybug friend, but it had gotten away.  So, now he wanted to go outside and catch it, since he could still see it.  Now, he was still in his cute striped pajamas and socks.  So...I convinced him that he had to change clothes and put on shoes before he could go trampling around outside trying to catch it.  (I know, I know...I'm a bummer of a mom!)  ;)  Anyway, with his new goal in mind, he ran to his room with me and we found him some play clothes and his "favorite, cool blue tennis shoes" (that are really almost too small for him now).  We got him all dressed for the task at hand...all the while I knew what would soon be coming that he had forgotten about, hence why I made him get fully dressed in play clothes.

Then, just as we came back out on the porch and he was making his way down the steps into the back yard to go catch his ladybug (who was now no longer visible...but he was determined!)...I alerted him to what was off in the not-too-far-off distance in the back yard...Pops (my father-in-law) had his truck backed up with a trailer FULL of DIRT being emptied right there in our back yard!!!!  A boy's dream!!! 

What ladybug!?!  The little man went running full force straight to the mountain of dirt!!!  "Pops, this is sooo cool!!!", he was yelling over and over as he ran.  WOW!  And, of course he dove in head first!  Then he proceeded to climb up one side and dive down the other riding on his belly all the way.  Then, he climbed back up to the tip-top and stood with his arms out to his sides, wind blowing his jacket in the air (picture the scene from Titanic) and he yelled over and over, "I'm the King of the Mountain!  Everybody see me!?!" 

What a hey-day!  Fun times!  And to think...if he wouldn't have listened to me, he might have stayed focused on that little ladybug and missed the whole thing...at least for that moment.  (And it's supposed to rain a good bit later, so really, this might be his one chance for the day to play in the fresh dirt.)

You see, I knew all of the above was in the plans for the day.  I knew the big picture all along.  Therefore, I guided him carefully in when and how to get dressed as well as what to pay attention to at just the right time.  I let him enjoy his little ladybug for the time he needed to, but when I knew something better was coming soon, I prepared him at just the right time for it.  Then, when it arrived, I made sure to direct him to it so that he could enjoy every minute possible of it.

Though I am in no way comparing myself to God, this scenario is much like what He does for us, His children.  He knows the BIG picture...He is the one who not only knows all of the plans, but has made them.  He knows what we love, what excites us, what refreshes us, what we need, what we want...He created us with all of those desires and emotions.  He also knows what can ultimately hurt us that seems good for the moment, and even what is good and okay for the moment but may cause us to miss out on a much bigger blessing and joy if we don't follow His redirection at just the right time.  We often kick and scream when He tries to redirect us from what we think is best for us, like my son could have done (and often would have done)...but thankfully for him, this time, he didn't...all he had to do was turn his eyes a few inches in a different direction and...OH, MAN!...A MOUNTAIN OF DIRT!!!  Same goes with us...just a few inches of adjustment in our view and...OH, MAN!...blessings beyond our wildest dreams!!!!  Ones He knew and planned all along for us, and even gently, secretly prepared us for all along as well.  But ones we were completely oblivious to until they are right there in front of our eyes! 

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."  (Proverbs 19:21)

"But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations."  (Psalm 33:11)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

"Let him not deceive himself by trusting in what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return."  (Job 15:31)

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."  (Psalm 40:3-5)

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture."  (Psalm 37:3)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." (Proverbs 16:20)

"He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe."  (Proverbs 28:26)

"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?"  (Isaiah 2:22)

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."  (Isaiah 30:21)

There I go again...getting carried away with His word!  Hope you were encouraged and maybe even convicted by some or all of the above, as I am. 

I know that I was meant to share this, because I have this nasty little computer bug that only rears its head every once in a while...and it did several times while I was trying to copy and paste those verses.  The first time, my heart sunk for a second because I thought I had lost ALL of the stuff above the verses!  And then as I was beginning to try to retype it, I remembered that Blogger has this wonderful "Autosave" that creates a draft for you throughout your typing!  Thank God for Autosave!  I merely had to come back in and edit the last draft that was saved to complete the post.  And...I figured a way around that little bug!  ;)

So...can't wait to hear what He is speaking to each of your hearts through this lesson in ladybugs and dirtpiles!

Guess I better go do some constructive things around the house now...and mentally prepare myself for the inevitable DIRT BATH of the 4 year old!  HaHa!  Maybe Daddy or Pops will take that one on for me!  We'll see...

(I am re-posting this for two reasons:  1) For my newer followers, in case you haven't come across it yet, and 2) I am entering a contest on The MOB Society's blog.  Go check it out!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Movies and Museums---Who needs 'em!?!

Fiery pinkish orange popping out against a backdrop of grayish blue with splashes of aqua randomly poking through.

Rembrandt?  Van Gogh?  Picasso?  No.

Flashes and flickers lighting up the blackness.  Over there---to the right---there's one.  Oh, and another to the left.  No, not on a movie screen nor on a red carpet.

Driving along the highway, I was mesmerized by the display.  Beautiful, intriguing, indescribable.  Words cannot compare to the colors and majesty of it all.  I even experienced some 3-D effects of strong wind and heavy rain at one point.  No special glasses required.

How could I for a minute begin to think that such beauty and complexity just happens?  Yes, I know of the science behind it all.  I don't dismiss that.  But to think that the intricacies of that very science just happen---I don't think so.  How could they?  They did not and do not cause themselves.  They are too spectacular and precise.  Too mind-blowing to just happen.

No, the only One who has no cause is the One who created cause itself.

His unique, delicate, yet intricate fingerprint is in everything.

The breathtaking views that overwhelm the mind were borne of His mind and painted with His hand.

The mind-boggling scientific details of how the human body works, let alone a single leaf on a tree---those too are evidence of Intelligence beyond anything we can fathom.  Intelligence that pre-dates any design we can imagine.  Each thing intentional and specific.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

I cannot help but marvel when I observe Him watering His garden and field just a bit to the left of the highway on which I am traveling.  Very precisely pouring out His rain in just His intended place at that time.

  • "He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them." (Job 37:11).
  • "Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?" (Job 37:15).
  • "What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?" (Job 38:24)
  • "He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth" (Job 37:3)

And, of course, to top it all off, He has a sense of humor, too.  He created us, after all!

Yes, near the last stretch of my drive, some of my fellow earthlings were observed towing an antique car behind a truck.  No big deal, except:
  • It was almost pitch black outside.
  • No lights on the vehicle appeared to be working whatsoever---specifically tail lights.
  • It was being towed with a chain of some kind (too dark to see it).
  • The car was a convertible car with the top down.
  • A guy was in the driver's seat of the car as the two vehicles were together only going maybe 55 miles per hour on I-10 in a 70 mile per hour zone---remember the pitch dark and no taillights!?!  
Once I got over the shock of almost rear-ending them, I just had to laugh at us humans.  Yes, thankfully He made some of us a bit smarter than others.  However, I'm sure we all have those "towing with the top-down in the pitch-black with no taillights" kind of moments.  Don't judge lest you be judged!

And to top off this movie and museum-free mind trip, as I came over the last hill on the bridge headed for my exit, what do I see ahead of me in the direction of the City of New Orleans on this non-descript August Sunday night near 10:00pm?  A grand fireworks display.  Really---a real fireworks display, visible for several miles.  This weary traveler has no clue what they are celebrating so elaborately on this random August eve---and come to think about it, they probably don't either.  That's just how they roll here.  Cherish and celebrate the life you have.  They know this first hand and live it every day.  It is who they are.  It is evident in their demeanor, in their talk, and of course in their cooking.  They know each day is a gift and they make it count.

How about you?  Do you know your life is a gift?  Each day of it?  Do you make it count?

Better yet, do you live your life in a way that you will ultimately Outlive Your Life?  You should.  I should.  We all should.  Our world is in need of a Hope Revolution.  Will you join me in being part of that starting today?  You can get a good idea of how and why to do it in the book I am reading right now by Max Lucado called Outlive Your Life.  It's not even out on shelves yet, but will be very soon.  I highly suggest you get a copy as soon as you can.  You'll see why.

And the next time the sky is full of color and flashes of light, be sure to tune out all distractions and enjoy the show.  Your Creator is playing it just for you---LIVE and in color---to show you that He truly is with you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I like a BIG knife!

As I was chopping up the ingredients for supper just now, I found myself hunting down the biggest knife we own.  Not that the job really required that, but I just like to chop with a BIG knife.  As a matter of fact, while living with my in-laws and cooking in their kitchen I always LOVED to use my mother-in-law's cleaver!!!  It's still my favorite knife, I think. 

Now I know that some tasks require a much smaller more delicate knife that can fit into tight spots, like a paring knife, for instance.  (I love those, too, by the way!  They are so cute and usually much sharper than their little size leads you to believe.) 

No, don't start thinking I'm some crazy knife person who loves to cut things!  BUT, when slicing and dicing is the task at hand...I like to come to the chopping board properly (maybe even overly) armed. 
The same can be said for the battles of life, you know. 

If you come to a major life battle, or better yet are unexpectedly ambushed by one, I don't think a little paring knife is going to do the trick!  Is that what you are fighting your battles with?  Are you being caught off-guard and all you have to pull out and wield around is a cute little paring knife?

I think it is no coincidence that Joshua's weapon in which he was highly skilled was the sword.  You see, not only was Joshua very skilled at using the sword, he also - by faith - obeyed and trusted God when leading the Israelites in battles throughout the Promised Land as they went in to take possession of it.  They didn't just win these battles (see the book of Joshua), they went in led by God through Joshua and "put the sword" to everything, completely destroying the enemy...and leaving NO survivors!

There are a lot of parallels in this that we cannot overlook.

We need to be armed with and becoming more and more skilled with THE Sword...of the Spirit...the Word of God! (Ephesians 6:17)  Not only do we need to have a Bible and even occasionally read it...we need to dwell in it, let it soak in.  Kind of like how you unknowingly memorize television commercials and such, the more you expose yourself to His word, even if you don't understand it all, the more it becomes familiar to you and stored in your head and in your heart.  Then, when the unexpected comes, rather than floundering around in fear, you will have things come to mind and even come out of your mouth that you did not even realize you knew.  Sharpen that Sword!  Practice swinging it around.  It will be a bit heavy at first, but as you lift it and use it more and more your strength and accuracy will increase.  Before you know it, you might just be a Spiritual Samurai!

Another parallel we cannot afford to miss is the fact that, because of their faith in God and obedience to His instructions to them, they went in and completely destroyed the enemy (even some very BIG and powerful ones)...leaving NO survivors!  When we fight our enemy, we cannot afford to leave any little stray bits that seem innocent and harmless lagging around.  We MUST leave NO survivors!  Otherwise, those little loose ends could rise up and come back to really do a number on us later, when we least expect it.  Whatever your enemy is...go to God first and give Him your fears, ask Him what to do (or not to do), then TRUST and OBEY!!!  Go in and put the Sword to the enemy...and leave NO survivors!

Now...can you see why I like a BIG knife!?! 

Nothing but THE Sword will do!!!